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Partnership for Public Service names 31 medal finalists

May. 5, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Police stand guard near New Jersey beach homes that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy in November. Mark DeMaria, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration supervisory meteorologist, is a finalist for a Service to America Medal for his work to improve hurricane forecast models and reduce storm damage. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Partnership for Public Service has named 31 federal employees or federal employee teams as Samuel J. Heyman Service to America finalists. They will be honored May 7 in Washington as part of Public Service Recognition Week.

The finalists are contenders for eight Service to America Medals, including Federal Employee of the Year. Medal recipients will be announced Oct. 3.

The medal categories and finalists:

Call to Service Medal

Andrew Rabens, special adviser for youth engagement, Bureau of Near East Affairs, State Department, Washington. Led initiative to engage young leaders from the Middle East and North Africa to share ideas and learn about American democracy.

David Vollman, staff ophthalmologist, Veterans Health Administration, St. Louis. Gathered, organized and analyzed data on cataract surgery results to improve medical practices and outcomes for patients.

Manan Vyas, research engineer, NASA, Cleveland. Advanced the national goal of developing hypersonic aircraft engines, the last frontier of aeronautics, through innovative testing and scientific analysis.

Career Achievement Medal

William Borucki, space scientist, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. Led design and operation of NASA’s Kepler space mission, which discovered Earth-like planets as far as 1,200 light years away, adding an impressive capstone on a 50-year career that began with the Apollo program.

Orice Williams Brown, managing director, Financial Markets and Community Investment, Government Accountability Office, Washington. Provided Congress with impartial analysis and oversight regarding the nation’s financial regulatory system, issuing warnings about potential risks and recommending improvements in the implementation of new laws and economic recovery programs.

Mark DeMaria, supervisory meteorologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Center for Satellite Applications and Research, Fort Collins, Colo. Pioneered models to better forecast the path and intensity of hurricanes during the past three decades to help communities and first responders prepare for severe storms and save lives, homes and businesses.

Michael Gottesman, deputy director for intramural research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. Throughout a four-decade career, led seminal studies in the treatment of drug-resistant cancer cells and played an instrumental role in improving the rigor of medical research.

Philip Rosenfelt, acting general counsel, Education Department, Washington. As a federal legal adviser and litigator for more than four decades, improved education and helped ensure equal access for all students.

Citizen Services Medal

Dave Broomell, project manager, Social Security Administration, Chicago Region, Stillwater, Minn. Developed technology innovations that have improved Social Security’s customer service and employee efficiency.

Martha Dorris, deputy associate administrator, Office of Citizen Services, General Services Administration, Washington. Delivered timely information on federal programs and services and engaged citizens with government through the use of Web portals, social media, crowdsourcing tools and a powerful search engine.

Daniel Madrzykowski, fire protection engineer, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md. Dramatically improved firefighting practices by conducting and sharing sophisticated research that has saved firefighters’ lives and protected property across the nation.

Terence Milholland, chief information officer and chief technology officer, Internal Revenue Service, Washington. Overhauled IRS’s information technology and tax processing systems, leading to quicker refunds and notices to taxpayers, reduced fraud and better internal management.

Todd Weber and the Multistate Outbreak of Fungal Meningitis and Other Infections Response Team. Weber is chief, Prevention and Response Branch, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. Quickly identified contaminated medicine as the cause of a major meningitis outbreak in 2012, and led the national public health response, alerting 14,000 potentially exposed patients and providing treatment information to the medical community.

Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal

Charles Addington, associate director of field operations, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior Department, Washington. Developed and implemented an innovative law enforcement program that reduced the high violent crime rate on four Indian reservations by 35 percent, providing a model for other Native American communities.

Michelle Colby and the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Vaccine Development Team. Colby is branch chief of agricultural defense, Department of Homeland Security, Washington. Following the loss of millions of farm animals throughout England in 2001, developed a safer vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease to protect America’s livestock industry and prevent harm to our national economy.

John MacKinnon and the Operation Holitna Team. MacKinnon is group supervisor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, Department of Homeland Security, Boston. Rescued more than 160 victims of child pornography and developed new forensic investigatory techniques to track down the predators who abuse them, resulting in more than 50 arrests since 2010.

Seamus McElearney and the C-38 Team. McElearney is supervisory special agent, FBI, New York. Led lengthy undercover investigations that have disrupted two of New York’s notorious and violent organized crime families.

Stephen Richardson and team. Richardson is special agent in charge, FBI, Mobile, Ala. Led a team of FBI agents and Alabama police that saved the life of a 5-year-old boy kidnapped and held hostage by an armed killer for six days in an underground bunker.

Management Excellence Medal

Margaret Focarino and team. Focarino is commissioner for patents, Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, Va. Led reforms that dramatically improved the speed and quality of patent examinations and approvals, helping incentivize new technologies and spur economic growth.

Kevin Geiss, deputy assistant secretary for energy, Air Force, Washington. Championed the safe use of alternative fuels to ensure energy independence for combat and support missions around the globe and reduced Air Force fuel and energy consumption, saving more than $1 billion in 2012 alone.

Harry Haskins and team. Haskins is deputy associate administrator for investment, Small Business Administration, Washington. Revitalized a moribund small business investment program, putting billions of dollars in the hands of entrepreneurs who have created thousands of jobs since 2009.

Claire Votaw, director, Project Services Office, State Department, Arlington, Va. Created a shared information technology network for American embassies and federal agencies operating overseas, saving money and reducing duplication.

National Security and International Affairs Medal

Cara Christie and the Horn Drought Humanitarian Response Team. Christie is disaster operations specialist, U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington. Identified a looming humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa and coordinated a complex U.S. relief effort to help millions of people who faced starvation and death due to the worst drought in six decades.

Hamid Jafari, medical officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. Directed the global initiative that eradicated polio in India and is leading the effort to eliminate this crippling and potentially fatal disease in the final three countries where it persists.

Kenneth Linthicum, director, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Agricultural Research Service, Gainesville, Fla. Developed techniques to predict outbreaks of insect-borne illnesses and protect livestock and humans, including military personnel, from debilitating and life-threatening disease.

Erica Keen Thomas and the U.S. Mission to China Air Monitoring Team. Thomas is environment, science, technology and health counselor, State Department, Beijing. Collected and publicly shared data that revealed dangerous air pollution levels in Chinese cities, increasing public awareness of the environmental risks and causing the Chinese government to confront the issue.

Science and Environment Medal

Paul Jablonski, metallurgist, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Energy Department, Albany, Ore. Revolutionized coronary stent technology by developing a new platinum-chromium alloy that makes the device thinner, more flexible and visible by X-ray.

David Lavery and the Mars Exploration Team. Lavery is program executive for solar system exploration, NASA. Led the Curiosity rover mission to Mars that is exploring the red planet’s geology and climate and assessing whether conditions are favorable for microbial life and human exploration.

Julie Segre, Tara Palmore and team. Segre is senior investigator and Palmore deputy hospital epidemiologist, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. Stopped the spread of a deadly hospital-acquired infection through the first-ever use of genome sequencing to identify the source and trace the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, creating a groundbreaking model for the health care industry.

Josh Silverman, director, Office of Sustainability Support, Energy Department, Washington. Discovered and led efforts to halt the release of more than 1 million tons of the world’s most potent greenhouse gas from Energy Department facilities, the equivalent of taking more 200,000 cars off the nation’s roads every year.

Nora Volkow, director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. Demonstrated that drug addiction is a disease that changes brain function and created new strategies for treating patients with substance abuse issues.

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